Spontaneous pain-like behaviors are more sensitive to morphine and buprenorphine than mechanically evoked behaviors in a rat model of acute postoperative pain

Rajiv Kabadi, Francois Kouya, Hillel W. Cohen, Ratan K. Banik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND:: Nonevoked spontaneous pain is most problematic for postoperative patients. Physicians assess this form of pain using the human visual analog scale or verbal numeric rating scale. Recent studies have proposed that spontaneous foot-lifting (SFL) behaviors are an expression of spontaneous pain in animals after spinal nerve injury or adjuvant-induced inflammation. In the current study, we characterize SFL behaviors in a rat model of acute postoperative pain, which includes comparisons with evoked behaviors to analgesic treatments. METHODS:: SFL was manually recorded over four 5-minute periods with 10-minute intervals between each testing session. Paw-withdrawal thresholds were subsequently measured with an electronic von Frey esthesiometer. To evaluate the effects of age, rats were tested in different age groups: 2, 7, and >26 months. The effects of buprenorphine and morphine were tested in a separate group of animals, which received intraperitoneal injections of saline, morphine (0.01, 0.1, 1, or 2 mg/kg), or buprenorphine (0.001, 0.01, or 0.1 mg/kg) before testing. RESULTS:: SFL behaviors peaked at 3 hours after incision and significantly recovered by the 3rd or 4th postoperative day (P < 0.0001). The presentation of these behaviors did not significantly vary with animal age (2, 7, and >26 months old; P = 0.30). SFL behaviors, with the exception of rapid SFL at 3 hours after incision, did not show significant correlation with paw-withdrawal threshold behaviors. The median effective dose of buprenorphine for reversal of mechanical hyperalgesia (0.0452 mg/kg; 95% CI, 0.0259-0.0787) was significantly larger than for reversing rapid (0.0027 mg/kg; 95% CI, 0.0009-0.0083; P < 0.0001) and prolonged (0.0004 mg/kg, 95% CI, 0.0000, 0.0035; P = 0.001) SFL at 3 hours after incision. Similarly, the median effective dose of morphine for reversal of mechanical hypersensitivity behaviors (2.901 mg/kg; 95% CI, 1.132-7.436) was larger than for SFL count (0.4044 mg/kg; 95% CI, 0.1048-1.561; P = 0.0103) and SFL duration (0.0309 mg/kg; 95% CI, 0.0095-0.0998; P < 0.0001) at 3 hours after incision. CONCLUSIONS:: The present study demonstrates that a hindpaw plantar incision induces SFL behaviors in rats and that these behaviors have higher bioassay sensitivity to analgesic interventions with morphine and buprenorphine compared with mechanically evoked behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-478
Number of pages7
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2 2015


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